NEW YORK – They set The Blacklist in Washington, but in truth it inhabits a Manhattan studio where Law & Order lived for two decades. Judging from its out-of-the-gate robust ratings, good reviews and swift full-season pickup, this new NBC crime thriller could be settling in for a long stay.
One day last week, filming dwelled in the FBIs cavernous, mood-lit War Room, where world-class criminal Red Reddington has held forth since, for reasons unknown, he surrendered to authorities to help them catch the high-profile outlaws he used to assist. More puzzling, he switched sides on the strict condition that he deals only with rookie FBI profiler Liz Keen.
These unlikely partners are played by James Spader and Megan Boone, and an all-important chemistry between them clicked right away, like the rest of the series, which arrived last month with remarkable sure-footedness, spared any hint of new-show confusion and doubt.
Oh, laughs Spader on hearing this assessment, theres a lot of confusion and doubt! We dont know what were doing yet! But were getting it done. By Monday night at 10 oclock – Eastern time, he means – were getting it done!
Spader, a veteran of dozens of films as well as TV series that include Boston Legal, has taken a short break from filming to step into the afternoon sunshine and talk with a reporter.
I might have been looking for him, Spader muses when asked how he came to play Reddington. I wanted someone who was irreverent, and, even at the most difficult times, saw the irony in the world around him. And hes really not afraid of the unknown.
Reddington – glib, charismatic but beneath it all, a bad guy – finds his ideal counterpoint in Liz, a good guy plagued by doubts about her husbands true identity, her own unsettled career and, most of all, why Reddington has chosen her as his information conduit.
I fought for that role, Boone says. Its a good fit. Shes got a lions heart and feet made of clay. Shes kind of a loner. Theres something inside her thats always hidden from everyone in her life.
Boone made her film debut in the cult hit My Bloody Valentine and had a supporting role in Sex and the City 2.
She says her Blacklist co-star has been really supportive. He believes in me more than I believe in myself sometime. Even so, does she feel intimidated going head-to-head with a veteran actor like Spader?
course! she chortles. But the intimidation is helpful: If youre playing my part and youre not intimidated by Red Reddington, theres something wrong. So I incorporate every feeling I have into my scenes with him.
Megan is incredibly eager and game, and with very little experience – and very open about that, he says. Our relationship is a function of the relationship of the characters in the show. So it works pretty well for both of us.